ArticlesGrant and funding opportunities for underrepresented entrepreneurs

Grant and funding opportunities for underrepresented entrepreneurs

Dear entrepreneurs from marginalized communities, we are aware of the efforts and innovations you are investing in your businesses. That is why we have taken it upon ourselves to explore various grant and funding opportunities available to support small businesses and entrepreneurs like you.

These initiatives aim to address the barriers faced by underrepresented groups and promote a more equitable entrepreneurial landscape. They range from grants exclusively for Black women and nonbinary entrepreneurs to programs supporting businesses affected by the pandemic. These opportunities provide financial support, resources, and guidance to foster business growth and success.

By familiarizing yourself with the eligibility criteria and application processes, you can maximize your chances of securing funding and advancing your ventures.

1. SoGal Black Founder Startup Grant

Black women and nonbinary entrepreneurs face significant barriers in accessing capital, hindering their ability to scale their businesses and create intergenerational wealth. To address this inequality, SoGal Foundation, in partnership with Winky Lux, bluemercury, twelveNYC, Twilio,’s Center for Racial Equity, and other sponsors, is offering cash grants of $10,000 and $5,000, along with valuable support, to empower Black women and nonbinary entrepreneurs. This initiative aims to foster a more equitable entrepreneurial landscape and dismantle systemic discrimination.

Eligibility Criteria:

To qualify for the SoGal Black Founder Startup Grant, applicants should meet the following criteria:

  1. Self-identify as a Black woman or Black nonbinary entrepreneur, inclusive of multiracial individuals in these categories.
  2. Have a legally registered business.
  3. Intend to seek investor financing to scale their business, either currently or in the future.
  4. Possess a scalable, high-impact solution or idea with the ambition to build a billion-dollar business.

How to Apply:

The application process for the SoGal Black Founder Startup Grant is as follows:

  1. Click here to access the application form.
  2. Complete the application by providing the required information.
  3. Submit the application. 

2. ARPA funds to small businesses

Reading’s City Council is taking steps to allocate $2 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to support small businesses in the area. Mayor Eddie Moran presented his plan during the strategic planning committee meeting, outlining how the funds will be disbursed to help revitalize the city and provide opportunities for businesses affected by the pandemic.

Eligibility Requirements:

To be eligible for the ARPA funds, small businesses must meet the following criteria:

  1. Established before March 3, 2020.
  2. Demonstrated a decrease in revenue directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. Employ 25 or fewer individuals.
  4. Hold the necessary licenses to operate in the state and the city.
  5. Conduct business that is not restricted to patrons over the age of 18.

How to Apply:

To apply for the ARPA funds in Reading, PA, follow these steps:

  1. Wait for the proposed ordinance to be drafted and adopted by the City Council.
  2. Prepare a business plan outlining how you intend to utilize the funding.
  3. Ensure your business meets the eligibility criteria
  4. Keep an eye out for updates and announcements regarding the application process.
  5. Submit your application once the official application process begins, following the instructions provided.
  6. Await the decision and funding allocation from the City Council.

3. Comcast RISE

Comcast RISE is a program dedicated to supporting the growth and success of small businesses, empowering them to uplift their local communities. With a focus on economic growth, Comcast RISE offers a comprehensive grant package to selected recipients, including business consultation services, educational resources, monetary grants, creative production, media schedules, and technology makeovers.

 Eligibility Criteria:

Comcast RISE targets small business with the following features:

  • Small businesses in Baltimore, Detroit (Macomb County, Oakland County, Wayne County, Washtenaw County), Memphis (Shelby County), Philadelphia (Philadelphia County), and Portland, OR (Multnomah County) are eligible to apply.
  • The program aims to assist businesses hardest hit by COVID-19, supporting recovery and long-term success.
  • Comcast RISE places a strong emphasis on diversity, inclusion, and community investment.

How to Apply:

To apply for a Comcast RISE small business grant, follow these steps:

  1. Complete the Eligibility Criteria Form (Approx. 5 minutes): Fill out the form to determine if you meet the eligibility requirements. Remember, you can’t make changes once submitted.
  2. Proceed to the Application (Approx. 45-60 minutes): If you’re eligible, start the application in the same form. You can save your progress and submit later if needed.
  3. Account Creation: If you don’t have an account yet, click “Sign In” at the top right corner to register. You’ll receive a confirmation email.
  4. Application Submission: For existing account holders, scroll down and select “Comcast RISE Application” to continue filling out the application.
  5. Review and Acceptance: Before submitting, carefully read the Official Program Rules and Privacy Policy. You’ll need to accept them during the application process.

4. Beyond Open Round 2

Beyond Open grants offer a valuable opportunity for diverse small business owners to access capital without incurring debt. The program is dedicated to promoting economic mobility and supporting entrepreneurs from minority, women, veteran, LGBTQ+, and disabled communities. 

Through the provision of grants, Beyond Open empowers small business owners to invest in capital assets and foster business growth. To increase your chances of success, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the program guidelines before applying, ensuring eligibility and maximizing your chances of success.

Eligibility Requirement:

To be eligible for Round 2 of Beyond Open grants, your business must meet the following criteria:

  1. Ownership: Your business should have at least 51% ownership by individuals from diverse backgrounds, such as minority, woman, veteran, LGBTQ+, or persons with disabilities.
  2. Location: Your business must be located within one of the six Corridors of Opportunity in Charlotte.
  3. Operational Duration: Your business must have been operating for at least one year before August 1, 2022.
  4. Business Type: Only for-profit organizations are eligible. Nonprofit 501(c)(3)s are not eligible.
  5. Annual Revenue: Your business should have an annual revenue between $30,000 and $5 million.
  6. Workforce Size: Your business should have fewer than 200 full and/or part-time employees.
  7. Franchise Ownership: If your business is a franchise, it must be locally owned and independent.

How to Apply:

To apply for the Beyond Open Grant, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the official Beyond Open Grant website to access the application form.
  2. Review the eligibility criteria: Before applying, make sure you meet all the eligibility criteria mentioned on the website.
  3. Gather required documents: Prepare the necessary documents, such as business registration information, financial statements, and proof of location.
  4. Complete the application form: Fill out the application form with accurate and up-to-date information about your business.
  5. Provide supporting documents: Upload the required supporting documents as specified in the application form.
  6. Submit your application: Once you have filled out the form and uploaded all the necessary documents, submit your application through the website.
  7. Application review: Your application will be reviewed by the Beyond Open Grant committee. Be patient during the evaluation process.
  8. Notification of decision: If your application is successful, you will be notified about the grant award and the next steps.

5. FedEX E-Commerce Learning Lab

Looking to enhance your business e-commerce? Whether you’re a beginner or want to optimize your existing online sales, FedEx and the Action Opportunity Fund (AOF) are here to assist you.

The FedEx E-Commerce Learning Lab is a comprehensive program designed to support diverse small business owners, especially women and entrepreneurs of color, in developing or expanding their e-commerce operations in response to the post-COVID-19 landscape.

Eligibility Requirements:

To qualify for the FedEx E-Commerce Learning Lab program, your small business must:

  • Own at least 51% of a US-based small business in an eligible industry (check prohibited industries)
  • Have operated the business formally for at least six months since January 2023
  • Currently produce and sell a shelf-stable, legal, packaged product
  • Earned less than $500,000 in business revenue in 2022

How to Apply:

To apply for the FedEx and AOF grant, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the AOF application partner and create a free account.
  2. Complete the online application before the deadline of June 30th, 2023, at 5:00 PM EST.
  3. Ensure you meet all eligibility criteria and provide requested documents, including photo identification, business tax return or license/registration, and bank statement.
  4. Await notification of your selection status in mid-July 2023.

Remember, the beginners’ cohort program includes a hands-on learning experience, a $5,000 business grant, and the opportunity to sell your products on the SOKONI Shop. Meanwhile, virtual seminars and online courses are available to all small business owners interested in advancing their e-commerce skills.

For more details, FAQs, and access to online resources, visit the FedEx E-Commerce Learning Lab website.

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Taiwo Sotikare
Taiwo Sotikare
Taiwo Sotikare is a contributing writer for ASBN with expertise in digital marketing, B2B SaaS, MarTech, and HR industries. He is passionate about helping small businesses grow via effective content marketing and has also written for Entrepreneur Magazine, Hackernoon, and Pangea.

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